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What is Earth Day? Top Earth Day FAQs Answered!

sprout growing out of brown paper bag for Earth Day

Earth is the only planet that we call home and the only one we know of that’s inhabited by breathing organisms. Thanks to our vast and beautiful oceans, Earth has been able to sustain living beings for billions of years. Because we depend on the planet to survive, we need to treat it with respect, clean it up, and do what we can to make sure it’s happy and healthy for generations to come. Earth Day is just one day—one movement—which aims to do just that. Read on to learn the answer to: What is Earth Day? and much more.

What is Earth Day?

Organized by the founders of, Earth Day is an annual event where people take action to safeguard the planet and show support for its well-being. Whether someone uses the day to attend special events or perform Earth-friendly acts, Earth Day mobilizes people around the world to do good for the land, sea, and air.

Who Started Earth Day and Why?

The idea for Earth Day came from Senator Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, in 1970. He had long been concerned about the negative impacts industrial development had on the environment in the United States and wanted to raise awareness about air and water pollution and create change. To spearhead his efforts, he enlisted the help of Pete McCloskey, a congressman, and Denis Hayes, a young activist.

What Happened on the First Earth Day?

Earth Day founders Nelson, McCloskey, and Hayes chose April 22, 1970, as the first Earth Day. To commemorate the event, college campuses around the country held teach-ins, allowing students to listen in on informal lectures and discuss the impacts industrialization had on the planet. Due to the media attention leading up to the first celebration, 20 million Americans across the country also participated in the big day. They crowded schools, universities, streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate against industrial development.

young child holding sprout for Earth Day

Why is Earth Day Celebrated?

People celebrate Earth Day to honor the advancements made in protecting the environment and raise awareness of the implications that pollution and climate change continue to have today.

Looking for ways to go green? Check out these changes for an eco-friendly home.

Why is Earth Day Always on April 22?

April 22 is the set day for Earth Day because it falls between spring break and final exams at most colleges. With fewer distractions and limitations and more people at school, it’s a day where organizers can optimize student participation and create excitement.

Is Earth Day a Real Holiday?

While many businesses, organizations, and individuals recognize the day as one of environmental education, awareness, and action, Earth Day isn’t a federally recognized holiday.

How Many Countries Celebrate Earth Day?

Earth Day is one of the largest civic holidays with 192 countries celebrating the day. More than one billion people take the day to do what they can to protect the planet and preserve its ecosystem.

What is the Theme for Earth Day 2024?

The theme for Earth Day 2024 is Planet vs. Plastic. The world produces over 380 million tons of plastic every year. Ten million tons of plastic are dumped into Earth’s oceans annually, and less than 9% of all plastic gets recycled. The Planet vs. Plastic campaign aims to drive up awareness of the risks to our ecosystem and health derived from plastics.

volunteers cleaning up trash and planting trees as an Earth Day activity

What Are Some Earth Day Activities?

While there are thousands of global events scheduled, you can celebrate Earth Day on a smaller scale right where you are. To take action on this year’s theme, choose the planet over plastic. Here are some Earth Day activity ideas:

  • Get online and do some research on plastic pollution. Taking 10 minutes of the day to educate yourself on your plastic footprint can help you identify the swaps you can make to de-plastic your life.
  • Recycle or repair your old clothes. Instead of trashing what you no longer wear, recycle it. Many fashion retailers offer recycling bins where you can drop off your worn-out pieces. If your most-loved item is torn, broken, or frayed, consider giving it a touch-up. Sewing up damaged threads is easy, and replacing a zipper can breathe new life into a long-forgotten outfit.

Did you know that you can recycle almost anything? Check out this article to learn how.

  • Pick up trash. Plastic bottles, bags, and other items constantly end up on seashores. Take the day to pick up trash at the beach, lake, park, or any other natural environment that people frequent.
  • Plant a tree. Join in on a tree planting initiative at a local park or recreation center, or plant a tree of your own. Trees provide clean air and abundant shade, making your backyard the perfect escape it’s meant to be.

What to Do When Kids Ask What is Earth Day?

Kids ask questions—important ones, too. Now that we’ve answered what is Earth Day and other questions, you’re well-equipped to handle their holiday inquiries. A perfect opportunity to get out and explore, read “5 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Earth Day.” In the article, you’ll find several kid-friendly activities to observe the day.